We are considering Popper's attitude towards Corpuscularism (Logical or
other) and Atomism at large.
In a message dated 9/6/2015 4:05:40 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx had written a very deep commentary, in the sense that
might require an exegesis (cf. "Let there be light").
For McEvoy had written:
"Popper does not think "atomism" is a true metaphysical picture of the
physical world or of W1, despite its success as a research programme."
And McEvoy allowed that this might be difficult to digest. Not to me,
because I everytime I hear the word 'metaphysical' I hear the surname "Hegel"
and everytime I hear the phrase "research programme" I hear the surname
"Lakatos" and I collapse.
McEvoy's exegesis goes as follows:
"What then might Popper suggest is a truer metaphysical picture of W1?"
I like 'truer'. Geary constantly answers, in his seminars, "Very true". One
day, one student challenged him: "What do you mean, 'Very true': either
it's true or it ain't. It can't be VERY true." "A truer truth has never been
spoken," the master uttered.
"One answer is in his formulation that reality consists in "changing
propensities for change", which leads us to his defence of a propensity theory
of probability that takes a propensity to be a real (dispositional) property
of a state of the world. In this metaphysical picture, there is no "atomic"
or "corpuscular" structure that deterministically underpins or holds rigid
what is constituted by it."
-- This seems to beg the question that ALL Atomic or Corpuscular Theories
are deterministic in nature. I don't think they were for Boyle or Locke. If
I have a rose in front of my nose, surely the corpuscules of the rose will
project into my nose and later my brain (via different tubes) making me
utter, "What a sweet-smelling rose".
But surely it is not predetermined (or 'predestined', as religious
thinkers of a different ilk might put it) that my nose should encounter that
So, we have corpuscular theory _sans_ determinism.
McEvoy concludes his exegetic post (where he then proposes Popper's
alternative to Corpuscularianism in terms of a theory of Dispositional
Propensities which are yet real (as in "He does not yet know how to swim; but
does: he has a propensity for it, a dispositional propensity for it; and I tell
you, in little Tommy's case, this dispositional propensity is a REAL
property" -- vide "Logical Entities Monthly"):
"This metaphysical picture is part of Popper's defence of indeterminism -
both within the natural sciences and at a metaphysical level (i.e. Popper
uses an array of arguments to counter determinism in both its scientific form
and its metaphysical form - including an argument that claims to logically
refute 'scientific determinism'). Of course none of this work would have
been considered fit for publication by the esteemed editorial board at Mind."
I would think Popper learned about INDETERMINISM via Heisenberg -- for W1
-- and then invented his own version of metaphysical indeterminism.
Everytime I hear the adjective 'metaphysical' in a sentence that also mentions
Popper I am amused, because when philosophy students first learn about Popper
is via the verifiability criterion of meaning and how Popper comes up to say
that he is not interested in meaning nor in a demarcation between meaning
and not meaning, but between science and metaphysics.
The student who is in a Lit.Hum. programme and knows his Greek (and a
little Latin) is amused, because there is nothing in 'scientia' that precludes
'metaphysica' being one. In fact, Kantotle, the greatest metaphysician,
would allow for metaphysical propositions being 'scientific'. But of course
none of this would be considered fit for the Proceedings of the Sir Karl
Popper Appreciation Society!
I was also thinking that when Russell coined "Logical Atomism" he was
thinking (in more than one way) Hegel. First, Russell was from Cambridge, and
Hegel was being the rage in Oxford with Bradley and Bosanquet. For Russell,
everything is corpuscular; but he would use 'atom', because Boyle had
introduced Corpuscularism to Oxford (and Russell hated Oxford -- he was from
Cambridge). Russell looked for corpuscules everywhere, as in
i. The king of France is not bald.
He makes in his essay on "On Denoting" a reference to Hegel's
anticorpuscularianism. For the Corpuscularian is an analytic at heart (like H.
was, while Hegel was synthetic (at heart, too):
"Either `the present King of France is bald' or `the present King of
France is not bald' must be true. Yet if we enumerated the things that are
and then the things that are not bald, we should not find the present King
of France in either list. Hegelians, who love a SYNTEHSIS, will probably
conclude that he wears a wig."
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